BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — Highway 1 along Big Sur is expected to reopen by April 30 because work to repair a huge piece of roadway that crumbled during a storm is nearly two months ahead of schedule, the California Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

The scenic highway snaking through California's rugged coastal cliffs has been closed since Jan. 28, when heavy rain triggered a landslide that carried a chunk of roadway into the sea. The washout left a 150-foot (46-meter) gap along the picturesque driving route.

Crews began to fill the canyon below with compacted dirt in early March. They are expected to establish the base of a new road on top of the fill, then pave and stripe it by the end of the month thanks to favorable weather conditions, Caltrans said.

“Reopening Highway 1 at Rat Creek just three months after a washout of this magnitude is great news for residents, recreationalists, business owners, and those who move goods through this region,” Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin said in a statement. “Caltrans has been focused on the emergency work needed to increase the resiliency of this highway section to extreme weather, and the fixes made will allow for safe travel.”

After reopening, crews will replace the main drainage system above the fixed roadway to help withstand future debris flows, rising sea levels and coastal erosion, Caltrans said. They will also work on landscaping and installing guardrails throughout the early summer.

The work was estimated to cost $11.5 million, the agency said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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